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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,382 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Reams of stuff have been written about me in the past, but never in my own words: this is the proper one’ Mark E. Smith Still going after thirty years, The Fall are one of the most distinctive British bands, their music — odd, spare, cranky and circular — an acknowledged influence on The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, Nirvana and Franz Ferdinand. And Mark E. Smith IS The Fall. ...more
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,382 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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MJ Nicholls
A slender and typically unrepentant diatribe from MES, stretched into the only ‘official’ book we’re likely to get on The Fall. Dave Simpson’s book The Fallen gets to the heart of the fan’s obsession with the group, providing a more compassionate look at a band so beloved among writers and word-lovers. It’s a little more, um . . . balanced.

This book acts like an extension of the MES myth, sprinkling a few surprises here and there among the liquored ramblings of the great man, transcribed (and no
Jonathan Hutchins
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Never liked The Fall much (and I was listening to Peel solid from 1979 for a few years) but there's no denying Mark E. Smith can't be ignored. I want to pigeonhole him as a smart-mouthed alcoholic has-been, and I can't. It's in large part a class thing - much of what he says about working-class vs middle-class attitudes in the North is absolutely spot-on. His self-comparison to Alex Ferguson is not as hubristic as it sounds - yes he routinely fucks off band members and has left traumas and lifel ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, music
I was 90 pages into this when the old curmudgeon Mark E Smith died. I first picked up a Fall single in 1982 and have been a fan ever since. Very much a Marmite band as in you either like them or you don't and no in between. This book is probably similar. It's obviously life as he sees it but several other members of the group have other ideas. As for me I'm just into CB.
Simon King
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Quite disappointing if you want to read a coherent, well-parsed biography of his career. Enlightening if you want 300 pages of continuous ranting (no different from a run-of-the-mill Fall song, come to think of it). Seeing that he didn't actually sit down to write it, don't blame MES, blame the ghost writer. (Apparently he had a nervous breakdown whilst typing up this protracted diatribe. Poor soul!)

I'd really like to see MES produce a literary work some day. I recall reading a 80s interview (m
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: punk music people
I'm glad I read this and learned something about a man and a band I knew very little about. Mark E. Smith is a complex, yet humorous man who has an often very agreeable opinion about almost everything, from politics and drinking all the way to television and FRIENDS. His stories about his siblings, touring, and a near encounter with Rikers could be turned into short stories, they're so funny yet so surreal. Now, I'm looking forward to catching up with The Fall.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly entertaining, meandering and irreverent - a 230+ page rant against the record industry, the middle class and those (ex-bandmates generally) that have 'slighted' him - plus other (drink fuelled) misdemeanours.

Still; a lot of (genuine) wisdom and hard earned experience is laid bare. And it's often very funny - and hugely quotable, as you'd imagine. The drink plays a huge part and perhaps a lot of the after effects have been underplayed. Real details (particularly with relationships) are sc
Joe Richards
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
A garbled and generally unfulfilling piece of ghost-writing, which is exactly what I should have expected. Entertaining in parts, vitriolic in others. There isn't much given away that isn't already known to Fall fans, and any insight is usually provided through ego-tinted glasses. It does speak volumes for MES' unique appeal, however: despite my negative review, I would certainly still recommend it to Fall fans.
Kay Smillie
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying that Mark E Smith hits the nail on the head re the current state of football. It has arguably got worse since this book was printed. The story wavers between rants and sheer genius. I have always liked the bloody mindedness of Mark but I now actually love him. A man very much of his own mind. Naturally it is mostly about the Fall but it is very much an insight to the intelligence and the heart of Mark E Smith. A renegade indeed.

Ray Smillie
John Clarke
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have a few Fall albums, not a huge Fall fan but always liked MES' attitude and unwillingness to conform, in short he believed wholeheartedly in what he was doing regardless.
This is a book you will hammer through, very funny in parts and you need not be a Fall fan to enjoy it. No dull talk about production of this or that, its a stream of consciousness and he pulls no punches. A truly unique voice, jaggy, uncompromising and honest. I'm sorry he's gone but indeed his vibration will live on.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
this guy is such a dick and a TOTAL eeyore, but he's also totally hilarious. only for upper-level Fall fans, i'd say.
Jun 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Drunk Manc Threat-uh.
Jane Long
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Mein Kampf for the Hollyoaks generation." Also contains the assertion that Louise's Stuck In The Middle With You was a great cover version. What a guy.
Adam Hudson
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone familiar with MES or The Fall knows exactly what they’re getting. Very amusing.
Maarten Wagemakers
Tauted as an autobiography, but this is more of one big rant loosely following the trajectory of Mark E. Smith's life rather than what you'd expect from someone's life story. It's very likely the ghost writer of this book had to cobble everything together from drunken diatribes of a cantankerous MES during 3 AM interview sessions in pubs, as that's basically what it sounds like anyway. While an audio book version of Renegade read by MES himself was probably out of the question from the onset as ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always considered myself to be a Fall fan even though it took me many years to start buying any albums. Mostly because in the late-70s to mid-90s most of the records I bought were secondhand and you simply never saw a Fall album secondhand, which indicated to me how good they were. I’d always catch them live locally when I could, and regardless of whether I’d heard the material – and usually, other than “Mr Pharmacist”, I hadn’t – was always immediately immersed in the imminently danceable ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, music
This reads like a combination of I Lived to Tell it All, and KISS and Make Up. Like George Jones, Mark E. Smith doesn't seem to know where his gifts came from (or even what they are), but gives himself ample room for cranky old-fogeyisms and bibulous self-handicapping. And like Gene Simmons, Mark regrets nothing, defends his vices, snipes at ex-bandmates, and comes across like a cocksure (or maybe "tonguesure") asshole. (But unlike Gene, Mark's knack for lucre obviously ain't all there, consider ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Well, I guess it's no surprise that this book is entertaining, and lacks focus. Meandering doesn't even begin to describe the journey each page takes. And I even skipped the poetry/prose interludes. The thousands of pints Mark E Smith has had over the years have done nothing to dull this man's ego or judgmentalism. Thankfully for us it hasn't dulled his drive for The Fall. But on the prior points there is a lot of shit talking in this book, and very little praise for anyone outside of Mark's pub ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I honestly don't know why it took me so long to read this book. I've been a rabid Fall fan since high school, devouring every album, every Peel session, and virtually every MES interview on YouTube. I admit, the guy fascinates me. He's never been afraid to call it like it is, and as an artist he always takes the road less traveled. He's an icon and an enigma at the same time.

For fans of The Fall, RENEGADE is more than a tell-all autobiography. It's a treasury. In it, MES reflects on his working
Rob Burton
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not a major fan of The Fall or Mark E. Smith although I am aware of the music and him - he's been around long enough and his legend is big enough.

The blurb on the cover of the books state it's 'Hilarious', 'May be the funniest music book ever written', A riot', and so on - maybe for the music journo's who are interested in this stuff but in the end I found Marks continuous defence of his actions all a bit tedious.

I read it on the train, in China, two hours from Nanjing to Shanghai and the
Paul Saxton
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Smith should have written this book a few years earlier, when he was sharper, cooler, more focused and less of an embittered drunk. Still, this collection of transcribed interviews is entertaining enough, with Smith obviously playing to the crowd a bit and living up to his image of an avuncular, although often belligerent, tyrant. Which is why it's perfect for the Guardian-reading, casual Fall fan who wants to just dip into the strange world of MES.

For those of us, however, who are a little more
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fuckfaces (Fall fans pet name for themselves)
Ostensibly the memoirs of The Fall's lead vocalist, my guess is that the writing process consisted of Mark E. Smith sitting down in a pub and spewing volumes of autobiographical vitriol to some journo with a micro-cassette recorder. Which was subsequently transcribed verbatim...

Which could've been any day in the life of Smith... but in this instance, he got paid.

Sample quote: "Degrees have a way of warping people -- it's not good for people to spend that amount of time at university, acting like
Phil Overeem
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There may be too much rant and self-justification here for the casual reader, but if you're a fan--or if you like Rotten's memoirs--it's a must. He is a cranky old fart, but also hilarious and insightful. And prole-friendly.
Matt Suder
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
1/2 as long as Keef's bio & 2x as fun... ...more
Flyss Williams
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Sorely lacking a narrative thread. This came across to me as a series of drunken rants and excuses and no where near as funny as it promised. Disappointing.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
So I entered this pub in Manchester and got talking to this drunk elf-like creature in the corner; this is what he said—
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great read, typically English, typically Northern. Cracked me up in places. Contrary and contradictory. I’m back on the Fall horse, listening wise.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
In honesty I'm not a big fall fan....neither do I dislike them it's possibly the breadth of work that puts me off I have but a meagre four albums of a discography that even at some point in the nineties in this book was over twenty..
I have always found Mark E Smith however a intriguing much the fall as Lemmy was Motorhead or Chrissie Hynde the Pretenders..not only the constant within the band but the figure whom although often the weakest musical link is without a doubt the creative l
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The recent death of Mark E. Smith, founder and sole constant member of Manchester post-punk band The Fall (dubbed by John Peel, their most avid supporter in the media, "The Mighty Fall"), robbed us of one of music's most challenging and idiosyncratic voices. "Renegade", a collaboration with Austin Collings, was first published in 2008, and firmly confirms Smith's reputation as a somewhat "challenging" character.

Smith tells his life story as a vivid ramble, full of lengthy asides, acerbically pin
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is all rather bitter - none of Mark's band-mates emerge with much credit (although after 1985's 'This Nation's Saving Grace' there is little to claim credit for anyway), with Smith's ire reserved for guitarists Marc Riley and Ben Pritchard in particular. Presumably this was because the latter was the most recently fired at the time the book was written and, in the case of the former, Smith has never managed to forget that Riley once stuck on one him during a band 'discussion'. If you know a ...more
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